Sampling increases music sales: An empirical copyright study


The Supreme Court instructs that the most important consideration in analyzing fair use is the effect on the market for the original. Employing music sales data, this article presents evidence of digital sampling’s effect on the sales of sampled songs. Our results indicate that a reassessment of fair use in the area of music sampling is needed since sales of sampled songs increased after being repurposed within new songs. These results are robust and highly statistically significant. Findings of this nature favor a judicial determination that sampling constitutes a fair use, even when considering the influence that a new work has on extant licensing markets for sample clearance. This article argues that the current sample–licensing market is a product of aberrant antisampling case law arising from a lack of relevant empirical data and nonutilitarian judicial opinions. As set forth herein, the goal of encouraging creative activity without hindering copyright owners’ capacity to financially gain from their work is served by implementing a limited presumption of fair use for sampling. The findings are further applicable outside of the fair use analysis, as the study is important in the private law when viewed through a law and strategy lens. Forward thinking music firms should reframe their approach by encouraging sampling of their works to secure cost-free advertising and achieve a competitive advantage.



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American Business Law Journal